Although maruten (a disc-like fried fishcake) is a common topping on Hakata-style udon, it was never typically considered the main attraction. That was until Manpei came along. Owner Yuichi Hirai, who spent nearly 30 years working with traditional Japanese cuisine, opened his shop six years ago after deciding to re-imagine maruten based on his experience with shinjo—a classier kind of fishcake used in traditional meals. He now offers ten kinds of maruten, including the highly popular yamaimo tororo (grated glutinous yam) and more off-the-wall selections like bacon and green shiso. The secret to his light, fluffy maruten is nothing more than meticulousness: he only fries the fish paste after you place your order. Since the shop’s move to Hakata last December, it has been procuring its noodles from Horino, a popular udon restaurant in Nakagawa-machi. If you find yourself nearby, be sure to stop by and try this tasty combination.
Menu: Maruten udon ¥600, cold maruten udon ¥700, curry maruten udon ¥700, clay pot maruten udon ¥850
Sets: Wagyu set ¥950, sea urchin rice bowl set ¥1,200, tuna and grated glutinous yam rice bowl set ¥1,200, tuna sushi set ¥1,000, squid rice bowl set ¥980, bacon rice bowl set ¥980, pork cutlet rice bowl set ¥900, chicken and egg rice bowl set ¥850, egg rice bowl set ¥800
*Cash only / Reservations not required / Alcohol available / No smoking
Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn226, October 2017)